Tag Archive: Bukidnon

This 2013, my year ends 7 hours later. Madrid has been home since November but in a few weeks, I should be flying back to Manila. When I tried to recall how the year went, I automatically searched through my blog archives to check what has kept me busy. So…… my life has been a blog series of sorts. Nice 😉 And complete with photos too! These are my memory aids, and they work.




We “baked” under the sun here in Nacpan/Calitang near El Nido, Palawan.



Our family commenced the year 2013 with a trip to El Nido and Puerto Princesa, Palawan. All of 5 days basking in the sun with sands in between our toes. A pleasant detour was the day spent in the twin beaches of Nacpan and Calitang. In this photo, we felt we were the only tourists but for this couple of Caucasians by the beach.



Paete Church, one of many around Laguna de Bay.

Paete Church, one of many around Laguna de Bay.



Then friends based abroad came a-visiting and we decided to do a roadtrip around Laguna de Bay. From SLEX through Calamba through the coastal towns of Pila, Paete and Pakil, then heading home via the Manila-East Road. We never thought we could do all that in a day.



We conquered Mount Pinatubo!

We conquered Mount Pinatubo!



I’ve always wanted to trek to Mount Pinatubo while my knees and legs would allow me. My nieces and a couple of friends joined me. We didn’t trek the whole way, and you may call us cheats, but still, I can’t say it was easy.



The northernmost island province is a must-destination.  Trust me on this!

The northernmost island province is a must-destination. Trust me on this!



Aaaahhhh….. Batanes. The place is magical. I intend to go back. I’d love for my family to see this enchanting place and meet up with the very kind, welcoming locals. I’ve had some pretty amazing domestic travels early in the year, like striking off from a bucket list! Batanes ranks high up in that list and for good reasons.



Speedboating and island-hopping in Phuket and Ko Phi Phi

Speedboating and island-hopping in Phuket and Ko Phi Phi



And then Phuket happens. We didn’t plan on it, but the idea of speedboating and island-hopping in Thailand was simply too tempting. Images of James Bond sailing away on a speedboat and Leonardo di Carpio’s “The Beach” crossed our minds. We also enjoyed the luxury of a villa with a plunge pool while we were there. And this was just less than 2 weeks from our long- planned trip to Ulaan Bataar. A couple more off the bucket list!



RAW, unspoilt Mongolia

RAW, unspoilt Mongolia



By midyear, I felt I’m done traveling until my scheduled holiday by yearend in Madrid. But it’s June, and I joined some of my friends flying to Cagayan de Oro to celebrate a dear friend’s 60th. Sidetrips to Maria Cristina Falls, the Divine Mercy Shrine and the Monastery of Transfiguration in Bukidnon were soon arranged, and voila!



Monastery of Transfiguration in Malaybalay, Bukidnon

Monastery of Transfiguration in Malaybalay, Bukidnon



July-August till the first week of September found me in Sydney, Australia. Absolutely unplanned, but I needed to be there for my eldest sister and only surviving member of my immediate family to deal with her health travails. Thankfully, my sister beat the odds so it was a good celebration after 5 weeks of ordeal. God is truly good and merciful.



Sydney. Not exactly on travel mode.

Sydney. Not exactly on travel mode.



Before long, I’m back home. This time, eager to experience a local festival. The MassKara Festival in Bacolod was timely as kin based abroad arrived to join me in celebrating a milestone in my life. Six–oh! Soon after the MassKara frenzy, we were partying on a safari theme, and moved on to Seoul, Korea for an extended celebration. Phew!



MassKara Festival in Bacolod City

MassKara Festival in Bacolod City

In seoul, we feasted on Korean food like there was no tomorrow.

In seoul, we feasted on Korean food like there was no tomorrow.



And since November, I’ve called Madrid home. Certainly a break from tradition (and the rest of the family) to spend Christmas and New Year’s here in the midst of winter. It’s a great experience for me to hear Misa de Gallo — complete with singing of Christmas carols (in Spanish of course) in a country that christianized us and passed on many of its traditions. I have grown accustomed to lunch at 2pm and dinner at 9pm. No siestas for me. Yet. But Misa de Gallo at exactly midnight, Noche Buena at past 1 am till 3 am is a tad difficult. Many Madrileños celebrated till 5am. No wonder Christmas mornings in Spain are very quiet and peaceful. Everyone is still on bed!



Christmas In Madrid

Christmas In Madrid



A couple more things. Christmas here is more about BELENES. There are Nativity Scenes in churches, museums, palaces. The center of attention is the Child Jesus. Not Santa Claus or a Christmas Tree. And gift-giving? NOT on Christmas Day. Rather, it’s on the Feast of 3 Kings who introduced the idea of gift-giving. The kids have to wait. Feliz Navidad!



El Belen de Salzillo

El Belen de Salzillo


Nestled in the coffee-planted hills of Barangay San Jose, Malaybalay, Bukidnon is the Monastery of the Transfiguration run by Benedictine Monks. Not many know of this spiritual facility, but I’m sure many are familiar with the Monks’ Blend Coffee from this area. Seven times in a day, these monks sing hymns and pray in a place lush with greenery amidst slopes carpeted in various shades of green.





A gentle reminder to SHUT UP. Entrance to the Monastery of the Transfiguration in Barangay San Jose, Malaybalay, Bukidnon.



Here, monks, overcast skies and landscapes seem to work in perfect harmony. No, there are no duvets to cover and wrap tired bodies in the tiny, meticulously clean spartan rooms, but listening to the overriding sound of silence is good for tired souls. Yes, good even for the non-religious.





Sit on the grass and wait for either sunrise or sunset.



This is where one can restore one’s self back to sanity, unloading many of those cobwebs that claimed space in our urban mindsets. Eat, sleep, and be still. The monks pray seven times a day starting with the 3:40 am Matins. The retreatants are welcome to join them. In between the Matins, Morning Prayers and Mass, Vespers and Evening Prayers, you may pray the rosary while walking around the gardens and viewing the hills and perhaps one of the last surviving forested blocks in the entire archipelago. It felt so routinary and familiar to wake up slightly past 3 in the morning and walking out of your “cocoon” of a Guest House towards the Chapel. The bells warn you. The Monks singing in Latin soothe you. It felt so right. So harmonious. And so dark. Before long, varied hues of sunrise colors magically appear on the horizon. Other times, a fog may descend without warning. Literally like touching clouds as they pass by. Feel free to sit on the grass near the Chapel to wait for sunrise and sunset.




The Guest House. Monastery of the Transfiguration in Malaybalay, Bukidnon.


Sunrise at the Monastery of the Transfiguration.



Every 2nd Sunday of the month, the growing popularity of the “Breakfast With The Monks” bring in as many as 300 traveling some distance from Iligan City (3 hour drive), Davao (5 hours) and Cagayan de Oro (2 hours). We missed this, but we had the most charming experience of chatting up 2 monks who may have abandoned their vow of silence while we were there 🙂 Fr. Col and Fr. Elias engaged us in a chat about gardens, joked with us, ate with us. I love how Fr. Elias would laugh with us then bring us back to some life philosophy inspired by the Good Book. We share the same mantra about “celebrating life” but I have tons to learn in the area of detachment. 😦




Soon after the Morning Mass. Monastery of the Transfiguration in Malaybalay.


Our Lady of Montserrat.



The pyramid-inspired architecture by the late National Artist Leandro Locsin is a masterpiece to have combined the conflicting elements of simplicity and grandeur. Inside is a large cross hanging above the altar which simply consists of a huge rock. Behind it and illumined by a lone spotlight is the statue of Our Lady of Montserrat donated by the Benedictine Monks of Montserrat near Barcelona, Spain. You can view the Virgin and Child up close by scaling a few steps behind the rock altar.




Museum of Liturgical Vestments. Monastery of the Transfiguration. Malaybalay, Bukidnon.


The Museum of Liturgical Vestments. Lovingly set up and created by Dom Martin aka Gang Gomez.



Within the Monastery compound is the Museum of Vestments. Dom Martin aka Gang Gomez (yes, that fashion designer and icon) truly made an admirable collection of vestments inspired by tribal designs and indigenous materials. Be sure to drop in, along with a visit to the Store where you can buy peanuts and coffee grown by the Monks. St. Benedict medallions and icons are likewise available here.




The Refectory at the Guest House. Monastery of the Transfiguration. Malaybalay.


Keep your tables neat and clean. Glasses, utensils, food scraps in one corner of the Refectory.



Or…….. You can always head back to the Guest House for your snacks of coffee ( Monks’ Blend, of course) and muffins. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are simple affairs. I love how each diner leaves the dining table clean by putting away all glasses, utensils and food scraps after each meal. Dining in silence? Possible. Unless you chat up a monk. 😉 But if you’re not up for a stroll ( i wasn’t after the 3:40 am Matins), it maybe a better idea to crawl back to your tiny, semi-hard, good-for-the-back bed for a power nap before the next prayer and feeding times. Goodnight!


The Corridor to the spartan rooms. Monastery of the Transfiguration. Malaybalay.


The Spartan Room. Monastery of the Transfiguration. Malaybalay. Bukidnon.